Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Scotland: Vols. VI–VIII. 1876–79.

Clyde, the River

The Clyde

By Alexander Smith (1830–1867)

(From A Boy’s Poem)

THE MORN rose blue and glorious o’er the world;

The steamer left the black and oozy wharves,

And floated down between dark ranks of masts.

We heard the swarming streets, the noisy mills;

Saw sooty foundries full of glare and gloom,

Great bellied chimneys tipped by tongues of flame,

Quiver in smoky heat. We slowly passed

Loud building yards, where every slip contained

A mighty vessel with a hundred men

Battering its iron sides. A cheer! a ship

In a gay flutter of innumerous flags

Slid gayly to her home. At length the stream

Broadened ’tween banks of daisies, and afar

The shadows flew upon the sunny hills;

And down the river, ’gainst the pale blue sky,

A town sat in its smoke. Look backward now!

Distance has stilled three hundred thousand hearts,

Drowned the loud roar of commerce, changed the proud

Metropolis, which turns all things to gold,

To a thick vapor o’er which stands a staff

With smoky pennon streaming on the air.

Blotting the azure too, we floated on,

Leaving a long and weltering wake behind.

And now the grand and solitary hills

That never knew the toil and stress of man,

Dappled with sun and cloud, rose far away.

My heart stood up to greet the distant land

Within the hollows of whose mountains lochs

Moan in their restless sleep; around whose peaks,

And craggy islands ever dim with rain,

The lonely eagle flies. The ample stream

Widened into a sea. The boundless day

Was full of sunshine and divinest light,

And far above the region of the wind

The barred and rippled cirrus slept serene,

With combed and winnowed streaks of faintest cloud

Melting into the blue. A sudden veil

Of rain dimmed all; and when the shade drew off,

Before us, out toward the mighty sun,

The firth was throbbing with glad flakes of light.

The mountains from their solitary pines

Ran down in bleating pastures to the sea;

And round and round the yellow coasts I saw

Each curve and bend of the delightful shore

Hemmed with a line of villas white as foam.

Far off, the village smiled amid the light;

And on the level sands the merriest troops

Of children sported with the laughing waves,

The sunshine glancing on their naked limbs.

White cottages, half smothered in rose-blooms,

Peeped at us as we passed. We reached the pier.

Whence girls in fluttering dresses, shady hats,

Smiled rosy welcome. An impatient roar

Of hasty steam; from the broad paddles rushed

A flood of pale green foam, that hissed and freathed

Ere it subsided in the quiet sea.

With a glad foot I leapt upon the shore,

And as I went, the frank and lavish winds

Told me about the lilac’s mass of bloom,

The slim laburnum showering golden tears,

The roses of the gardens where they played.